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Designing for the Digital Age: How to Create Human-Centered Products and Services by Kim Goodwin

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Chapter 18. Developing the Design Language

Developing the Design Language

The appearance of any product or environment will always say something to the people who look at it; a designer's job is to ensure that it says what it should by establishing an appropriate design language. To most people outside the design team—and even to some design team members who are not responsible for it—this design language development is often a mysterious process. Many designers make it seem even more mysterious because they can't explain how they arrived at the design language they're showing. In the absence of clear rationale and assessment criteria, stakeholders tend to evaluate the design language based on personal preference or to rely on the inexpert opinions of a focus group to choose the appropriate expression of their product's brand.

Although developing a design language is largely a matter of experience and skill in manipulating visual (and sometimes physical) properties, the process described here will help you focus your skills and educate stakeholders. The point of design language exploration is not to provide untutored stakeholders with an a la carte menu from which they can pick and choose colors, type, and materials; rather, it is to help them select a clear visual communication strategy based on sound reasoning.

You may be able to skip this chapter if you're working on a product that has an established design language, ...

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